The Rise in Addiction to Benzodiazepines
Opiate abuse such as the misuse of fentanyl and heroin abuse may be making headlines with the amount of people that are dying from overdose each year, but benzodiazepines are often overlooked, even though the misuse of benzodiazepines trails closely behind. Someone with an addiction to benzodiazepines often takes the substance along with other drugs such as heroin or Oxycontin, creating a highly dangerous drug cocktail.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Treatment of anxiety is the main use of benzodiazepines. They are also known by the abbreviation “benzos”. It is often used in the treatment of addiction to other drugs during the detoxification stage where it helps to reduce symptoms. The medical use of benzos also includes the treatment of convulsions or seizures and to help people suffering from insomnia – common drug withdrawal symptoms. Brands of the drug include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin and several others.
An addiction to benzodiazepines can form whenever a person uses it in a way that their physician didn’t prescribe, such as for pleasure. It is an addictive substance; therefore, repeated use can lead to an addiction to benzodiazepines.
Scope of the Problem
According to a study published on the American Journal of Public Health about the benzodiazepine overdose death rates, it revealed a shocking statistic: out of the 23,000 reported prescription drug overdose deaths in 2013, almost a third was due to benzodiazepine overdose.
From 1996 to 2013, the amount of benzo prescriptions increased by around 30 percent, from 4.1 percent to 5.6 percent respectively. The overdose death rates quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. The biggest increase in overdose deaths was seen in the 18 to 64 age group.
Side Effects of Benzo Misuse
When benzos are misused a person will experience the following side effects:
- Impairment of the person’s memory, thinking and judgment
- Slurred speech that resembles the side effects of alcohol
Benzodiazepine Addiction Withdrawal
With repeated use of benzo, an addiction to benzodiazepines can form as previously discussed. When this happens, the body starts to count on the substance being present, resulting in dependence. When the person then tries to stop abusing it, they start to feel benzodiazepine addiction withdrawal symptoms, which include the following:
- Severe anxiety, especially in cases where it was used initially to treat anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Muscle aches
- Heavy sweating
- A lack of concentration
- Distortion of the senses
- High blood pressure
In some withdrawal cases, the person will experience a condition called delirium tremens (DTs), which is also common in alcohol withdrawal. DTs are serious and require medical supervision to avoid possibly fatal problems. DTs are characterized by seizures, hallucinations, psychosis and fever.
Treatment for Benzo Abuse
Treatment for an addiction to benzos is effective. It normally starts with a detox which is assisted with various medications to make the symptoms more manageable, and safer. Some people may think that a detox can cure an addiction, but it is just the start of a larger treatment plan.
Following a detox at rehab, behavioral therapy and alternative treatment programs become available. These are important for long-term recovery since addiction is a relapsing disease. Preventing relapse and helping the person with legal, social and health issues among others that they may have is the purpose of the treatment, ultimately helping the person change their lifestyle and embrace a clean, healthy life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.